While some may find it a bit odd at first, learning how to train a Maine Coon to walk on a leash is actually both simple and beneficial to you and your cat!
Maine Coons are highly active creatures that crave stimulation, and taking your cat for a walk outside is the perfect way to provide both exercise and enrichment.
Begin training your Maine Coon to walk on a leash by first getting them accustomed to a leash and harness at a young age. Once your Maine Coon tolerates its harness and leash, you can take your cat outside for a short exploration. Over time, you can take your Maine Coon out for longer and longer walks.
Maine Coons are so intelligent and easy to train, they are often referred to as the “dogs of the cat world.”
Since many Maine Coons can also learn to walk on a harness and leash, this only makes their nickname even more fitting!
Read on to find out how you can train your Maine Coon to walk on a leash, so your cat can get all the exercise and playtime it wants!
How To Train A Maine Coon To Walk On A Leash
The Maine Coon is a large, fascinating breed that mysteriously originated in the cold state of Maine.
These cats developed a fluffy, thick coat to protect themselves from the snow, as well as large, wide paws.
Maine Coons are incredibly popular due to their large size, which is about the same as a medium-sized dog!
Many owners choose to keep these expensive cats indoors to keep them safe and healthy.
Since this breed is highly active and intelligent, however, it is important to find ways to provide sufficient exercise and enrichment.
Maine Coons that do not get enough enrichment can become bored, depressed, and destructive.
Learning how to train your cat to walk on a leash is one of the most effective ways to keep your cat fit and entertained!
Where To Start
Before launching into harness training, you should first make sure you purchase a safe, secure harness that is the right fit for your Maine Coon.
Simply attaching a leash to your cat’s collar is not safe enough, as your cat will be able to escape.
This is because cats have incredibly flexible shoulders, and they can easily slip out of cheap harnesses by running backward!
A good harness should be snug and prevent your cat from escaping.
1. Measuring A Maine Coon Cat
To ensure you are getting a harness that is the right size, you should measure your Maine Coon’s chest.
Use a tape measure to measure the circumference of their body directly behind their front legs.
Small cats will typically have a chest measurement between 11 to 14 inches, while large cats may measure over 20 inches.
2. Best Maine Coon Cat Harnesses
Since Maine Coons are much larger than the average cat, unfortunately, many pet stores do not carry harnesses with sufficient sizings.
Thankfully, there are still companies online that produce harnesses fit for even the largest of Maine Coons.
Here are three amazing, yet different cat harnesses to consider buying for your cat:
a. Holster Harness
The Kitty Holster Harness is one of the most popular options for Maine Coon harnesses, which you can buy here on Amazon.
This harness comes in a variety of sizes, as well as colors and styles. It is comfy and lightweight, made out of durable soft cotton.
b. Voyager Harness
The Voyager Harness is a cheaper alternative to the Kitty Holster Harness.
It is made from lightweight, breathable fabric, and comes in even larger sizes than the Kitty Holster Harness, if your Maine Coon happens to be extra, extra large!
c. PetSafe Come With Me Kitty Harness
Another option for your Maine Coon is the Come With Me Kitty Harness, which you can find on Amazon here.
This harness is adjustable from multiple points, and you can specifically tighten the straps around the neck and shoulders to prevent your cat from wriggling backward out of the harness.
This Maine Coon harness is a good option for more sensitive cats who do not like the oppressive feeling of a vest-type harness.
Teaching Your Maine Coon To Walk With A Harness
Once you have a harness that fits your cat properly, it is time to teach your cat how to walk on a harness and leash.
Here is a step-by-step guide for Maine Coon harness and lead training.
1. Introduce The Harness
Before taking your Maine Coon outside, you should first get your cat used to the harness and leash.
It is best to start young, because some cats can become easily overwhelmed by the new sensation, and they may flop over without moving the first time they try it on!
Allow your cat to first sniff the harness and leash, and provide lots of positive reinforcement through:
Then, once your cat seems comfortable around the harness, you can put it on them.
If your cat appears distressed, take it off immediately, provide lots of treats, and try again another day.
You can slowly extend the time your cat wears the harness, until your cat seems comfortable taking it on and off, as well as wearing it for longer periods of time.
2. Introduce Your Cat Outside
Once your cat is comfortable wearing a harness, you can introduce it to the outside world.
Keep in mind that many cats that have never been outside before, can quickly become frightened and overwhelmed by all the new sights and sounds.
Therefore, it is best to start in a small, enclosed garden first, preferably away from traffic or loud noises.
Simply allow your cat to sniff around the garden and walk where it pleases.
If your cat seems distressed, take it inside, and provide plenty of treats and positive reinforcement.
Continue to take your cat outside until it is exploring confidently and enjoy being outside.
3. Go On Short Walks
Now that your cat feels comfortable exploring outside, you can begin going on walks.
Start with short walks at first, so your cat does not become overwhelmed or tired. Make sure you take water with you, to prevent your Maine Coon from becoming dehydrated.
Cats, unlike dogs, tend to go where they please, and it is more difficult to train them to walk obediently by your side.
Therefore, it may take some patience (and lots of treats!), but you can still train a Maine Coon to walk like a dog if you desire.
Walking a Maine Coon lead and harness style does not mean you have to walk like dogs do, though. Many cat owners prefer to let their Maine Coon explore wherever it likes.
4. Go On Longer Walks
Finally, you can advance from short walks, around 5 to 10 minutes, to longer walks. Some Maine Coons love walking so much, that they can even learn to go on hikes!
As always, take plenty of water for hydration, as well as snacks.
You should always go at whatever pace makes your cat most comfortable, though, so if your cat prefers shorter walks, or simply exploring around the garden, then there is no need to go on long walks (source 1).
Benefits Of Training Your Maine Coon To Walk On A Leash
Here are some of the benefits of training your Maine Coon to walk on a leash:
Provides Lots Of Exercise
Maine Coons are highly active cats that love to run, jump, and climb.
It is important to have plenty of scheduled playtime with your cat, as well as space for jumping and climbing such as cat trees or secure shelves.
Taking your Maine Coon out for a walk, though, is a great way to get in lots of exercises without your cat tearing through the house!
Stimulate The Senses
Maine Coons do not just need exercise; they also need to experience novel sensory input.
If you were stuck in the same house your whole life, you’d easily get bored of the same view, same sounds, and same smells.
Taking your Maine Coon for a walk will allow your cat to feel the wind in its fur and smell all sorts of exciting new things.
Keep Your Cat Safe
Letting your cat outside is one of the easiest ways to provide exercise and enrichment, but it is also the most dangerous.
Cats that are allowed to roam freely are vulnerable to:
- Hostile Feral Cats
Training your Maine Coon to walk on a leash, however, allows your cat to experience the outdoors without the risk of getting hurt or lost.
Can You Take A Maine Coon For A Walk?
A Maine Coon that feels comfortable wearing a safe, secure harness can be taken out on walks, provided the cat appears confident and content the entire time.
If your cat seems fearful of the outdoors, though, you may be wondering, do you have to walk a Maine Coon?
While going on walks is incredibly beneficial for your cat, it is not a necessity.
Some cats are sensitive and may be too scared of the outdoors to enjoy going on walks.
When To Start Harness Training A Kitten
When walking Maine Coon cats, it is important to start at a young age, but not too young.
Responsible breeders will not send a Maine Coon kitten to its new home until it is around two months old.
However, you should wait to take your kitten outside until it has been fully vaccinated, at around three or four months old.
You can still train your kitten to begin wearing a harness at home though.
Of course, since Maine Coons take three to five years to reach their full size, you will have to get new harnesses as your kitten outgrows the old ones.
It is best to start younger than wait until your cat is fully grown, though, because older cats tend to react strongly when they try a harness on for the first time.
What Can You Train A Maine Coon To Do?
Maine Coons are incredibly trainable and intelligent cats, and you can teach them to do all sorts of tricks!
Here are some other cool things you can train your Maine Coon to do:
- Fetch: A lot of owners want to learn how to train Maine Coon to play fetch because it is one of the more famous traits of this cat breed. You can train your Maine Coon to fetch all sorts of toys, just like a dog!
- Sit and Stay: Most cats hate being told what to do, but you can teach your Maine Coon to sit and stay if you have the patience to train them.
- Roll Over: You can teach your Maine Coon to roll over, which is an especially cute trick if your cat also likes belly rubs.
- Speak: Maine Coons are soft-spoken creatures that tend to trill or chirp instead of meow. You can train your Maine Coon to make these adorable noises on command, so long as you provide plenty of treats at first.
- Shake: Another cute trick you can teach your Maine Coon is to “shake” your hand, although most cats just learn to touch their paw against your hand.
Do Maine Coons Come When Called?
While most cats know their names, they famously refuse to come when called, perhaps out of stubbornness.
With proper training, though, any cat can be taught to come when called!
Maine Coons, which are obedient, doglike, and intelligent, are one of the easiest cat breeds to train.
You can use treats to teach your cat to come when you call its name.
Learning how to train a Maine Coon to walk on a leash is surprisingly simple, and is incredibly rewarding for both you and your cat.
After purchasing a secure, escape-proof harness, you can gradually teach your cat to become accustomed to wearing a harness and leash.
Over time, your cat will be able to explore the garden or even walk around the block with you at its side!
This is the perfect way to provide enrichment and exercise while keeping your cat safe from cars, predators, and other outside dangers.
Can You Potty Train A Maine Coon?
Like all cats, Maine Coons take readily to litter box training, and most can use a litter box without any accidents by the time they are three months old.